If ECO were in the business of writing horoscopes (we are in the business of writing quizzes though!), and if 13 and 40 were numbers to be avoided at all costs then today isn’t a good day for the Arctic.
Both the US and Nordic countries have signed the Paris Agreement and their leaders affirmed they are ready to work on implementation. In fact, at the recent US-Nordic Leaders’ Summit in Washington D.C., they declared that they will work together on managing the Arctic region with an ecosystem-based approach, balancing conservation and sustainable use of the environment.
In light of these good intentions, it was a surprise to learn that Norway has just awarded 13 companies a staggering 40 licenses for oil and gas exploration in the Barents Sea. Drilling into the Arctic could also be seen as Parties drilling holes into the commitments adopted in Paris.
This area deep in the Arctic waters is one of the world’s most fragile regions. These new licenses are in addition to existing Russian activity in their part of the Barents Sea, where oil is already being pumped offshore at a large scale.
All countries must act in accordance with their pledges from Paris and promptly phase out fossil fuels as soon as they can, especially those who are among the richest in both money and capacity. Yes, Norway, we are looking at you. Is it not enough that you are drilling for fossil fuels in the Arctic, and dumping mining waste into fragile ecosystems? Do you really need to give out more and more permits to continue the destruction?
To make the goals of the Paris Agreement a reality, and to reach the 1.5ºC target, will require massive and transformative efforts. Any additional fossil fuel drilling only undermines our common goal, leaving huge quantities of stranded assets in the coming years and long lasting climate impacts affecting all, especially the most vulnerable.
What’s next: are you one day going to drill us too?